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Various Artists, The Soul of Designer Records

2014 | Label: Big Legal Mess

From 1967-77, if you were a gospel group that wanted to make a record, you likely found your way to Designer Records in Memphis. Whatever your budget, label boss Style Wooten was willing to accommodate, producing and recording 45 RPM singles you could buy on an as-needed basis to sell at your shows — a form of self-publishing for the cash-strapped.

By this means, Designer Records released more than 500 gospel sets during the decade, 101 of which have been cherry picked for this four-disc box set. And what makes this… more »

The Como Mamas, Get an Understanding…

2013 | Label: Daptone Records / The Orchard

Ester Mae Smith and sisters Angela Taylor and Della Daniels have been singing together since childhood, but the way their voices blend sounds much older: singing a cappella at Mt. Mariah Baptist Church in Como, Mississippi, the women harness a stripped-down sincerity. In their voices, God is taken off the pedestal and put in arms’ reach.

“Now let us all go back to that old landmark,” the women sing on the first track of Get an Understanding…, an invitation by a gospel trio molded in the land of the blues. “God… more »